Preview: Islanders Welcome Okposo & Sabres to Brooklyn

The New York Islanders host the Buffalo Sabres in their final game before the holiday break. This game will mark the first time former Isles winger Kyle Okposo returns to face his former team at Barclays Center. The Islanders drafted Okposo in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and he remained a part of the team until signing a free-agent deal with Buffalo this past summer.

Okposo assisted on the game-winning overtime goal on December 16 when the Sabres edged the Isles 3-2 in Buffalo in the only previous meeting of the season between these two teams.

The Islanders last played on Tuesday night when they beat the Bruins in Boston 4-2. That victory ended a five-game winless streak for the Isles (0-4-1). The Sabres were in action Thursday night, falling 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes. Even with last night’s loss, the Sabres are 2-1-2 in their last five contests.

New York Islanders, Thomas Greiss, Fantasy Hockey, NHL
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Islanders are going with Thomas Greiss  in goal fresh off his outstanding performance in Boston while Buffalo will likely counter with Anders Nilsson.

Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders

Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST

Broadcast Channels – MSG-Plus, MSG-Buffalo

2016-17 Season Series: December 16 2016, Sabres 3, Islanders 2 (OT)

Buffalo Sabres – 12-12-8 – 32 points

Road Record: 5-5-5

Hot Players: Rasmus Ristolainen, Kyle Okposo, Evender Kane

Key Injuries: Cody McCormick, Tyler Ennis

Projected Lines:


Nick Foligno – Ryan O’Reilly – Sam Reinhart

Matt Moulson – Jack Eichel – Kyle Okposo

Evander Kane – Johann Larsson – Brian Gionta

Zemgus Girgensons – Derek Grant – Nicolas Deslauriers


Jake McCabe – Rasmus Ristolainen

Dmitry Kulikov – Zach Bogosian

Josh Gorges – Cody Franson

Starting Goaltender:

Anders Nilsson


New York Islanders – 12-14-6 – 30 points

Home Record: 9-7-4

Hot Players: Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Thomas Greiss

Key Injuries: Adam Pelech, Casey Cizikas

Projected Lines:


Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey

Andrew Ladd – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera

Shane Prince – Brock Nelson – Anthony Beauvillier

Nikolay Kulemin – Ryan Strome – Cal Clutterbuck


Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg

Starting Goaltender:

Thomas Greiss

Game Notes:

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma is one win short of 300 for his NHL career. The majority of his coaching wins came with the Penguins who he led to a Stanley Cup after taking over midway through the 2008-09 season. Bylsma was an assistent coach with the Islanders back in 2005-06.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Although Jack Eichel’s return to the lineup on November 29 his sparked the Buffralo offense, Bylsma benched the young phenom during a first-period power play last night against the Hurricanes. Eichel returned to the power play unit in the third period. Bylsma indicated he was trying to send his young star a message.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Anders Lee has been the Islanders most dangerous player over the last 14 games. The Edina, Minnesota, native has scored 11 goals and 14 points in his last 14 games. Lee has given the Islanders a consistent offensive threat other than John Tavares.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]John Tavares has enjoyed success against the Sabres with 11 goals and 22 points in 22 career games against Buffalo. Tavares was banged up and sat out a day of practice but is expected to be ready to play tonight. The Islanders signed and called up veteran forward Stephen Gionta as an insurance policy.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]Special teams have a been a problem for the Islanders this season. The Sabres power play is ranked fourth in the league and the Isles 25th ranked penalty kill will have its hands full. The Islanders will try to take advantage of Buffalo’s penalty kill which is next to last in the league. The Islanders power play is ranked 28th in the league.

The Islanders would love to enter the holiday break on a positive note and pick up some momentum from Greiss’ strong performance in Boston. This will be an emotional return for Kyle Okposo and the former Islander will get a video tribute and a warm welcome from the fans. The Sabres have been inconsistent of late and played last night so the Isles should have an advantage there.  This is a game the Islanders should be able to win, but Isles fans are aware with this team, nothing is a given.